what is mgo

What is MGO in Manuka Honey? Understanding the Significance for Quality and Benefits


In this article, we are going to explore the fascinating topic of MGO (methylglyoxal) and its significance in the context of manuka honey. Manuka honey is gaining popularity due to its unique healing properties and is often known for its high MGO content. But what exactly is MGO? How does it affect the quality and benefits of manuka honey? And why is it important to understand the concept of MGO when purchasing manuka honey products? All these questions will be answered in detail throughout this article.

What is MGO?

MGO, short for methylglyoxal, is a naturally occurring compound found in various foods, plants, and animal products. It is a highly reactive compound that is known for its antimicrobial properties. MGO is responsible for the potent antibacterial activity present in manuka honey. The concentration of MGO in manuka honey is what sets it apart from other types of honey in terms of its therapeutic qualities.

The Discovery of MGO in Manuka Honey

The discovery of the presence of MGO in manuka honey was a significant breakthrough that shed light on the unique healing properties of this honey. In the late 1990s, a team of researchers from New Zealand led by Dr. Peter Molan found that manuka honey contained high levels of MGO, which was believed to be responsible for its exceptional antibacterial effects.

Dr. Molan and his team discovered that MGO has the ability to inhibit the growth of various pathogenic bacteria, including MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) that is resistant to most antibiotics. This finding opened up new avenues for research into the potent medicinal properties of manuka honey.

How is MGO Measured?

The measurement of MGO concentration in manuka honey is crucial to determine its quality and potency. A standardized testing method known as the MGO grading system is used to measure the MGO level in manuka honey. This grading system assigns a number, usually ranging from 30 to 1000, to indicate the concentration of MGO in the honey.

The MGO Grading Scale

The MGO grading scale categorizes manuka honey into different grades based on its MGO content. The higher the MGO rating, the greater the antibacterial potency of the manuka honey. Here is a breakdown of the MGO grading scale:

  • MGO 30+: This is the lowest grade of manuka honey, indicating a low concentration of MGO. It is still beneficial as a natural sweetener but does not possess significant medicinal properties.
  • MGO 100+: This grade signifies a moderate level of MGO in manuka honey. It offers some therapeutic benefits and is often used as a general health supplement.
  • MGO 250+: Manuka honey with an MGO rating of 250 or higher is considered to have strong antibacterial properties. It is commonly used for wound healing and digestive health.
  • MGO 400+: This grade of manuka honey is highly potent and is recommended for treating severe bacterial infections and for overall immune support.
  • MGO 600+: Manuka honey with an MGO rating of 600 or higher is considered medical-grade honey. It is typically used in clinical settings for its potent antibacterial activity.
  • MGO 800+: Manuka honey with an MGO rating of 800 or higher is extremely rare and found in limited quantities. It is known for its exceptional healing properties and is highly sought after.

What MGO Rating Should You Choose?

The choice of MGO rating depends on the individual’s needs and the intended use of manuka honey. For general health maintenance, lower MGO grades such as MGO 30+ or MGO 100+ may suffice. However, for specific therapeutic purposes, higher MGO grades like MGO 400+ or MGO 600+ are recommended.

When selecting manuka honey, it is essential to consider the purpose for which it is being purchased. Consulting with a healthcare professional or a knowledgeable source can help guide the decision-making process.

The Importance of MGO in Manuka Honey

The MGO content in manuka honey is crucial in determining its quality and effectiveness. The higher the MGO concentration, the stronger the antibacterial properties of the honey. This is why manuka honey with a higher MGO rating is often associated with more potent healing abilities.

The Unique Antibacterial Mechanism of MGO

MGO exhibits a unique antibacterial mechanism that sets it apart from other antibacterial agents. It acts by disrupting bacterial cell membranes, ultimately leading to the death of the bacteria. This mechanism has been found to be effective against a wide range of bacteria, including those that are resistant to conventional antibiotics.

Furthermore, MGO has been shown to have antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, contributing to its overall healing potential. These properties make manuka honey an excellent natural remedy for various ailments.

The Benefits of MGO in Manuka Honey

The benefits of MGO in manuka honey are vast and have been extensively studied. Here are some of the key benefits associated with high MGO content in manuka honey:

  • Wound Healing: Manuka honey with high MGO levels has been found to accelerate wound healing. Its antimicrobial properties help prevent infection, while its anti-inflammatory properties promote tissue regeneration.
  • Digestive Health: Manuka honey with significant MGO content can help alleviate digestive issues such as stomach ulcers, gastritis, and acid reflux. Its antibacterial properties combat harmful bacteria in the digestive system, promoting a healthy gut.
  • Respiratory Health: MGO-rich manuka honey has been found to have benefits for respiratory conditions such as sore throat, cough, and sinusitis. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties provide relief and support healing.
  • Oral Health: MGO in manuka honey helps combat oral bacteria and promotes oral health. It can be used as a natural remedy for gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath.
  • Immune Support: The antimicrobial properties of MGO contribute to its immune-boosting effects. Manuka honey with high MGO content can strengthen the immune system and provide protection against various infections.

The above benefits are just a few examples of the wide range of therapeutic properties associated with MGO-rich manuka honey. These properties make it an excellent natural alternative for various health conditions.

How to Identify Genuine MGO-Rich Manuka Honey?

With the growing popularity of manuka honey, it has become increasingly important to ensure the authenticity and quality of the product. To ensure you are purchasing genuine MGO-rich manuka honey, consider the following factors:

Check for Authenticity Certifications

Look for reputable certifications on the packaging that indicate the authenticity of manuka honey. The most common certifications include the Unique Manuka Factor (UMF) and the Mānuka Honey Science Definition. These certifications guarantee the quality and MGO content of the honey.

Read the Label Thoroughly

Carefully read the label of the manuka honey product to gather information about its MGO content. Look for a clear indication of the MGO rating on the label. The label should also mention the country of origin, the production process, and any additional certifications.

Trust Reputable Brands

Choose manuka honey from reputable brands that have a track record of producing high-quality products. Look for brands that prioritize transparency and provide detailed information about their honey sources and testing procedures.

Do Your Research

Before making a purchase, do some research on the brand and read customer reviews. Reputable brands often have a strong online presence and positive customer feedback. Take the time to find out more about the brand’s commitment to quality and authenticity.


In conclusion, MGO is a crucial component of manuka honey that gives it its unique healing properties. The measurement and understanding of MGO in manuka honey are essential for selecting high-quality, potent honey products. By choosing manuka honey with higher MGO ratings, individuals can experience the maximum therapeutic benefits offered by this extraordinary honey. Always ensure to verify the authenticity and quality of manuka honey before making a purchase, as this will guarantee the potency and effectiveness of the product. So, the next time you come across manuka honey with high MGO content, you’ll know exactly what makes it so special.

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